I have one unpublished manuscript completed. It’s called Striving After Wind, an historical fiction piece that tells how an ex-slave woman’s tragic relationship with a white game warden and a wealthy couple complicates her ability to leave northwest Indiana for the family she’s always wanted. From conception to completion, the story took about two years to write. Since I’m a newbie, I didn’t think that was a long time. Now, I’m starting to believe it was because it’s taken me a while to get those characters out of my system so I can focus on a new set.
So now I have a new idea brewing in my head. This time, I decided to set a goal after attending a workshop at American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference in September. I didn’t want to spend another two years consumed with one manuscript, so I set a goal: to have an 80,000-word novel completed by July 2014. Midwest Writers Workshop is in July, so maybe I’ll have something worthy to pitch by then.
In the meantime, I’ve broken the 80,000 down into something my mind can handle: 10,000 words a month, or 2500 a week. So far, I’ve been hitting that weekly goal. I have a total of 6049 words so far on an untitled manuscript. I know. I should have more than that by now, but one week was spent chasing the idea for a sequel to Striving. Then I came to my senses. One thing at a time was better for my word count. But I think I can write another 4,000 in eleven days.
What’s been keeping me on track? Well, ACFW has a loop called Novel Track Writing. For a few months out of the year, members can post a goal, and then update the loop on progress. I thought I was doing something extraordinary until I saw some members’ goals and progress. Many of them are published authors using the loop to help them make a deadline. They have goals that will make your hair curl. Others have a ten-minute-a-day goal. Even these folks boast upwards of 500 words. Posts also include encouragement and prayer requests. The loop makes this solitary life, not so solitary.
Hopefully, I will make that 10,000 word goal for October. I’ve got a 2-day Fall Break coming up at the end of this week, so that should give me four days of writing without worrying about work (the work that pays the bills). If so, I’ll have established a solid writing routine that will get a manuscript (first draft, mind you) done in about 8 months.
As the Little Engine That Could Said: “I think I can.”